"I'm told you're already thoroughly familiar with Quiet Birth," the medical technician said.
Even with Roarke's hand in hers, Eve Dallas couldn't completely stop herself from shuddering. "I've seen it at its worst, Mr..."
"Doctor. Minchenko." He looked it, with Slavic cheekbones and faintly slanted ice-blue eyes. *A kid,* Eve thought, though with his credentials he must be at least thirty. When the Icoves ran wild he would have been what, fifteen? Dreaming of being a genetics doctor, maybe, not stopped by the huge scandal about cloning and slavery. "I'd heard about your involvement, Captain." He was smart, using her rank. "But what the er, original creators used as an atrocity is well-controlled science now. Quiet Birth has given safe fertility to women who would have died during traditional in-body pregnancies, allowed early interventions to damaged fetuses that would have been impossible in the womb. Uterine replication, as we're calling it now, has a proven track record of over five years in at-risk human beings. Nearly twice that with other mammals. The NFDA would never have approved it for general use otherwise."
General meaning "limited to the extremely wealthy." But after sixteen years of marriage to Roarke, Eve Dallas was -- nearly -- used to that category. "What are you proposing?" she asked, delaying.
"We would remove the number of eggs you designate from your ovaries by standard obstetrical methods, bring them to maturity in vitro," the young doctor said. "Obtaining male gametes is ...." he blushed slightly. "Easier. We would fertilize the number of eggs you direct. There is wastage. Even in a woman's body under ideal conditions, some 25 to 50 percent of fertilized eggs refuse to implant. We can better that figure considerably. If you have a preference as to gender...."
"No," Roarke said firmly. The last remark had skirted the law -- more than skirted it. "Let everyone have a chance. We could try one at a time." He glanced back at his wife. They'd discussed this, but had never come to a conclusion. It was Eve who'd insisted on keeping this appointment anyway.
Eve looked out the window. Her arm ached, phantom pain, where her father had broken it the day he died. She'd thought -- was it a whole five years ago now? -- that her captain's bars would make this decision easier. But somehow she kept risking her neck in the field anyway. Female cops did it, gave birth and set the baby aside and went back to work. She'd seen it done. She'd seen it fail, too.
Roarke was as lean and exquisite as he'd been the day she'd met him. He moved as smoothly. But there was gray at his temples now, and the lines showed even when he wasn't smiling. She could leave the world nothing to remember Eve Dallas by, without a qualm. But Roarke was different. "Three," she blurted. "It's not like we can't afford the groceries. If we get three kids, or two, or one," None, "We'll be fine."
She met Roarke's eyes, felt steadier. "How do we do this?"
The technician relaxed faintly, with clear orders to follow. "A full medical workup comes first. For you especially, ma'am. The information you've already provided will certainly help." Eve tuned him out, tried on a smile. But she knew Roarke saw her doubts as well as her decision.